The Lakers and Hornets meet tonight in a highly anticipated showdown that is certain to have huge implications on the final standings in the Western Conference. New Orleans is currently sitting at number one in the West with a franchise best 55-23 record while L.A. is right behind them at 54-25. The Hornets lead the season series two games to one, winning one game at home and another at STAPLES Center in the first month of the season.
Both teams are coming off impressive wins over two of the league’s worst teams, with the Hornets toppling Minnesota 122-90 on Wednesday and the purple and gold slaughtering the Clippers 106-78 last night. Due to the lopsided victories, each of the Western contenders were able to rest their starters for the fourth quarter in their respective wins–something that should help the two teams in tonight’s game.
While tonight’s matchup is certainly important for both teams, it will likely also go a long way toward determining what now looks like a two-headed race for Most Valuable Player between the Hornets’ Chris Paul (21 points, 12 assists, 3 steals) and Kobe Bryant (29 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists).
Even though the Lakers are still gunning for the top seed in the conference and home court advantage throughout, their eyes are still set, first and foremost, at securing the Pacific Division crown–something they can accomplish with a win tonight and one more Phoenix loss.